World War I

world war

No other war in history has been so long anticipated, so carefully prepared for and thoroughly discussed, not only in the privy councils but also in the press of every nation. Every European soldier thought he knew where his uniform and rifle were stored, with whom and when he was going to fight.

The short-term causes of the conflict were the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist on 28 June 1914, which precipitated the war between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey) and the Triple Entente (Britain and the British Empire, France and Russia and their allies). Rivalry between Germany and Britain had been growing for years.

Long-term causes included imperialism, which made countries more powerful by extending their control over colonial nations, creating tension and rivalry. Also, nationalism encouraged people to decide their loyalty based on ethnic or cultural background rather than shared interests and ideals. In addition, military technology was developing rapidly, leading to bigger and more destructive weapons.

Soldiers endured appalling conditions as they marched through the bleak landscape of “No Man’s Land,” the muddy and dangerous territory between the trenches of opposing armies. They suffered from a variety of diseases including trench foot, rheumatism and diarrheal illnesses such as trench mouth. Poison gases and tanks were new offensive weapons that helped to reshape the battlefield. These were designed to help infantry advance across barbed wire and exploding mines that blocked passage.